Happy Endings

Dear Alice,

I just finished watching a new series on Netflix called Heatstopper. It’s this really cute love story between two boys in high school. Honestly, watching it made me feel happy, happier than I’ve felt in some time. But it’s also made me feel quite sad and melancholic.

Why do I feel sad? Well, because the story has a happy ending. I think I should be happy it ends in a positive note; I mean, it’s not every day that we get a story about queer joy and love and just fluffy happiness. But that makes me feel just bad about myself. What if I never get a happy ending? What if I’m just stuck with a bad beginning and a mediocre middle? I’m sure life has more to offer than what I’m currently living in, at least I hope it does.

I’ve also made a big decision recently. After conversation with my counselor and with my mother (yes, I talk to my mom a lot. Sue me.) I’ve decided to quit my job in October. Just in time for my birthday. It’s scary really, the prospect of starting again almost from scratch, but I have a good feeling this time.

I think a new start is just what I need. I need to rediscover who I am and who I’m meant to be. I thought I had it all figured out, but it turns out I actually don’t. And thinking about that is terrifying. What if I mess it up again? What if I have to start again when I’m 36 and have less prospects than I have now? I feel like you’re supposed to figure things out in your twenties, but I guess that’s not always the case.

I at least figured I’d be happy by now. Not necessarily a happy ending, but at least having a bigger picture as to what my life would look like in the future. I don’t know, I guess I’m just meant to go with the flow of things.

I might move again this year. I’m supposed to get a call later this week to let me know whether or not I am. I hope that I am, it’ll make the job transition easier if I am. But there’s a part of me that doesn’t want to leave this church. I’ve grown to love these people. And I think they’ve grown to love me too, even if they have a weird way of showing it.

I don’t know, Alice, I’m in a weird place right now. I wish you were a real person so I could come visit you. Perhaps a retreat of sorts is exactly what I need. To get away from everything, just me and my thoughts and my books. That sounds nice.

I’ll talk to you again soon, my friend.

Love,

Alex

Bottomless

Dear Alice,

Do you ever feel so empty that you feel bottomless? As if there’s nothing in the world that could ever fill this pit within yourself because it just goes on and on and on forever. Well, that’s how I feel right now.

I can’t exactly say why, but I suspect that it has something to do with the fact that I am completely and utterly alone. I have very few friends in this area, none of whom are ever available to hang out or talk for more than 5 minutes. There’s no “special someone” in my life, and if there were even prospects of someone, they’d have to be kept a secret. No one should be a secret.

I wonder why I let part of myself be secret. Why I must hide my identity from the world as if it were some unsightly thing that would scare people away. Perhaps it is, but I hope it is not.

I recently tried to take back a piece of myself. Something that was taken from me long ago; and I did manage to do so. But by taking back this piece of myself and letting go of the chains, I seem to have emptied myself far too much, because I feel bottomless. So empty that not even the depths of the universe could fill.

I wonder what it feels like to be full. To be so full of something that you feel like bursting. What do people fill themselves with? Perhaps love is the best answer, but what even is love? I don’t know. I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced it. To be loved must be beautiful, and to love must be electric.

I don’t know, Alice, things were looking up and now they’re looking down again. I guess that’s just how life works. One day you’re at the top of the hill, and the next you’re at the bottom of the world. All I know is that, at least for today, I am bottomless.

Love,

Alex

Leftover Rice

Dear Alice,

You know, every time I make rice, I always have leftovers. I never wondered why that is until today. I learned to make food for many. When my mom taught me how to make food, she did so with the only knowledge she had: making food for my family for both dinner and lunch the next day.

So I learned to cook for 4, sometimes even for 8; and even though I try to reduce the portions to make it so that I only have enough for me (I hate wasting food), I always end up with enough food for a day or two. Rice is one of those foods that I always cook too much of; 2 cups of rice always turns into 4 days of rice.

It makes me think about how I wasn’t meant to be alone. Sure, I might be alone for now, but I don’t think I was alone forever. Maybe someday my cooking skills will be good enough for someone, but until then I guess I’ll just have a lot of leftover rice.

It’s funny. In the past I would’ve been distraught by talking about this, but now I’m really not that sad to be alone. Sure, my cat is with me (did I tell you I got a cat?), but he can’t eat rice (I think). At least not as much as a human can, but I’m sure that he’d appreciate it.

This reminds me of a Taylor Swift song (as most things do). “Wanting was enough, for me it was enough.” And for now, wanting will have to be enough.

Love,

Alex

Exit Strategies

Dear Alice,

So much has happened since I last wrote you. Not everything has been bad though, some goo things have happened. Example: I finally got a mental health diagnosis and prescriptions for it! My doctor prescribed me Zoloft for my anxiety and I’ve been taking it for about two weeks. I don’t feel any different, but I guess my energy levels have gone up a bit.

Now to the bad things. I’ve recently been accused of not so nice things regarding my social media. If it was the first time something like this has happened, I think it wouldn’t bother me as much, but seeing as though this is the second time it’s happened, I feel sad. Why would someone think I make inappropriate posts on my social media?

My one guess is pretty dark and very sad: homophobia. I am not a stranger to homophobia. I grew up surrounded by it; but it wasn’t until earlier this week that I came face to face with the realization that these negative comments about me have nothing to do with my character or personality, but with the fact that I am, in fact, queer.

It’s sad that I have to live through this, it’s sad that the people who are in charge of my professional life will not look past my sexuality, it’s sad that we live in a world that judges queer people just on their queerness and not the fullness of their identity. It bothers me that this is the reality that we have to live in.

But there is one silver lining in this whole situation. It has solidified my decision to quit my job and leave my ministry all together. Sure, I’m not gonna do it immediately, but I know now that, whenever I do it, it’ll be the right choice to make.

I am tired of always having to watch my back. I am tired of being harassed for something that people know nothing about. I am tired of having to teach people to see things differently. I am tired of working in an environment that will constantly put me in danger just because I love differently than most.

I am tired. And I am done.

Love,

Alex

The Boys I Loved Before

Dear Alice,

This letter isn’t so much for you as it is for them. For all the boys I once loved and still love to a certain degree.

Sure, this might be a crossover between Ariana Grande’s “thank u next” and “To All the Boys I Loved Before” with an extra layer of melancholy, but I think sometimes it’s necessary to reminisce on these things.

To Juan: I know I scared you with my feelings; honestly I scared myself a little bit. It was all too much and my heart went faster than my brain. I dreamed of things that would never happen between you and me, and forced a friendship that was never meant to be. I’m sorry you had to be my first love, especially because I wasn’t ready to love someone who didn’t love me back.

To Steven: Every day I wonder what life would be like if we’d ended up together, or if we’d still be friends. I’m sorry for how things went down, I wish things were different. I hope that, wherever you are, you’re happy.

To Carson: I think we tried too hard to be more than just friends, and we weren’t meant to be lovers. But hey, at least we were meant to be friends and best friends at that. Thank you for that short moment and for the moment we now live in.

To Eric: I don’t know how it all went so sour so fast. I’m not sure if it was me or if it was you or if it was the moment surrounding our brief friendship and one-sided love story. Whatever it was, I wish I could go back and change it. I hope you’re well and that you’re thriving.

To David & Austin: I wish we had more time. I wish we could’ve been more. But time and distance (and an international boarder) made things impossible for us. I’ll always wonder what we could’ve been had we had more time. But for now, I’m glad we’re friends.

To Chris: Thank you. Thank you for loving me the way you did. Thank you for seeing the good in me and seeing something in me. Sure, we were probably an illicit affair, but it was fun and I loved every second of it. I wish we had more time, but the time we had was magical. I hope you find peace.

To Manny: I’m sorry for how things ended. I’m sorry that I sad so many things and made so many promises that I failed to keep. I wish things could be different, but I think it’s better this way. Maybe one day down the road our paths will cross again. I hope they do.

To all of you: thank you for being a part of my life. I will carry you all with me always.

Now, Alice, I think it’s time for me to be alone for a while. Relationships are hard and I need to grow a little more before I’m ready for one. I know one day I’ll be ready, but for now I think I’ll just focus on being me.

And to all the boys I say this: in the words of Taylor Swift, “it would’ve been fun, if you would’ve been the one”

Love,

Alex

The People We Are

Dear Alice,

Today I started thinking about the many people I’ve met in the many wanderings of my life. I realize how many of them have shaped who I am now.

I wonder about the people I met at my elementary school and how I only know what two of them are up to now. Or about the people I met in high school, most of whom are living their best lives out in the world right now. Or even the people I met in college and how barely none of them are working in their fields of study right now.

I wonder about the people I met in my churches. How some of them are still going to the same church and how some of them moved somewhere else. How some of them left the church all together, and how some of them are thinking about leaving it.

I wonder about the people I met at the summer jobs and places I volunteered at, and how I think they’re all doing okay but I can’t say for sure. I hope they are.

I wonder about myself. About how my life came into contact with all these different people and how closely our stories wove together, but not they seem like threads that weren’t even in the same tapestry. I wonder if they think about me sometimes, I know I think about them.

This made me think about how people aren’t necessarily permanent, but their impact can be. I wonder how many lives I’ve changed without even knowing I’ve changed them. I remember one day in college, I ran into some of my former classmates. We’d taken only one class together, and we were close during that class. I barely thought about them at all, but it turns out they thought about me a lot.

You see, they were a couple now, with a couple name and couple journal and all that mushy stuff you see in the movies. Turns out my name was in their journal because I was the one who introduced them. I was the one who brought their stories together. They thanked me for that. I think they’re still together, but I can’t say for sure.

Isn’t that interesting? How we change lives without even knowing that we did. How people change ours without knowing they did. Being back home, I feel like I’m reconnecting with all those lives that were once a part of my story and aren’t anymore. It feels good to look back on that and see them in a positive way, and not in a dark way. It’s fun to not feel like a burden on other people.

Anyway, I gotta get back to being on vacation. I’ll talk to you soon.

Love,
Alex

A New Beginning

Dear Alice,

I know its been a while since I last wrote you, and believe me when I say that it’s not because of lack of motivation or desire. My new wifi doesn’t like me writing to you so I just stopped trying to fight the internet overlords. I hope you can forgive me for keeping you in the dark for so long.

A lot has happened since my last letter. I moved to a new city (I basically live in two places now), I’ve learned much about myself and who I was, and I finally went on vacation! I’m currently writing to you from my parents house in Puerto Rico.

Honestly, I can’t put into words how good it feels to be here. It’s new and exciting but familiar in a way; like I went on vacation for a few days and came back home. It’s sunny and warm and the wind brushes against my skin like a hug from an old friend.

I honestly wish I didn’t have to go back. Sure, I’ve gotten used to New York. To the small rural towns I lived in, to the cities I now live in, to the cold and the dry air, to only seeing plants that I grow myself, and to living in a place that will always feel strange. But to see my home and to feel the warmth that it brings is irreplaceable.

I was talking to my counselor the other day about how I feel lost. And I still feel this way, but now that I’m home (even if for a little while), it doesn’t feel scary. Back in New York, I felt lost and without the possibility of finding direction, but here, I feel like I’m not lost but wandering trying to find something new. I like this feeling a lot.

I wish I could just flip a switch and bring myself back to my island, but sadly that is not up to me. So I wonder, what if I could somehow bring this same wandering feeling with me to New York? Is it possible to not feel lost in a place I don’t know that well?

My dad used to say that the best way to find your way back to the road you were traveling is to just keep going forward, and that the best places are discovered when you turn down the wrong street. Sure, he was talking about driving, but this has a lot of wisdom for my current state. What if, instead of wanting to go back, I try to go forward? Wherever I find myself tomorrow, I think I’ll take his advice and just go forward. I might never tell him that, but I’m sure he’d be happy to hear that I’m finally taking his advice.

This might not be my longest letter, but I think it’s the one that just feels different. I hope you see that I’m growing and changing into something, someone, new. I wish you could let me know what you think.

I miss you friend. I’ll try to find a way to write to you more often.

Until then.

Love,
Alex

Farewell part 1

Dear Alice,

I know it’s been a while, and I’m sorry about it, but it’s been a crazy time. Long story short, I’m moving. I feel like I should be excited for this, but I’m really not, especially because it’s in such a busy season. Not only that, but saying goodbye to so many people just…sucks.

I made friends here; very good friends too. But I guess this is my burden. Make friends, build a life, and then start over. I would say I feel lost, but I don’t feel much of anything these days. I’m too busy packing and prepping to feel anything. But I think today, in the middle of packing and prepping and finishing, I’ll allow myself some time to feel. I’ll let myself think of all the things I’ll be leaving behind and all the things I might find in this new place.

I’ll talk to you once that happens.

Love,

Alex

Does anybody have a map?

Dear Alice,

I know I don’t normally write you when I’m at work, but today it was necessary. I don’t really have many friends that I would burden with the knowledge of my innermost thoughts in my life, but I know you’ll always listen and you’ll always understand.

I feel sad. I feel lonely. I feel lost. I feel fake. I feel so many things right now that I can’t even make sense of them. You know what I did this morning? I prayed for a partner. I never thought I’d be the person praying to God so they could find “the one” (I’m not even sure I believe in that concept) but I guess this is where I am right now.

I feel alone in this place. Not just because I’m a young person in an old folks town, but because no one really understands where I’m coming from here. They just see me as a stupid kid, and sometimes I believe that I am a stupid kid. God, I wish life had a reset button that I could just press and get a do-over on things.

If my 10-year-old self could see me now, I bet they’d be disappointed in me. Hell, I’m disappointed in me now. I think I’ve just ran and ran and ran away from something that wasn’t real, and now I’m stuck in a place where I don’t feel real anymore. I feel like I’m some character someone’s playing.

God, I wish I could quit this job right now and move back home, but I don’t want to burden my parents or leave the people here with one less hand in our busiest season. I’m just so…confused. I wish I could flip a switch in my mind and gain some clarity.

Anyway, I gotta get back to work. I’ll talk to you soon.

Love,

Alex

Prisons and Cages

Dear Alice,

Have you ever felt trapped? Well, today I felt trapped by so many things that naming them would take up this entire letter. The morning started off great. I did some meditation and experienced a freedom I hadn’t felt in a long time, but as soon as I stepped foot in church, I knew something was off.

I can’t tell what it was really, but I can’t help but feel that that something was me. That I was the thing that didn’t belong in this church. Maybe because I’m not sure I believe the same things that they believe in, maybe it was that I don’t look like they do, or that I don’t love like they do. Something about me being there felt off. I know I’ve wanted to leave for a while, but I’m not sure if I can hold off until I finish a master’s degree. I have this sinking feeling that I need to move on sooner than I expected.

I don’t know, Alice, but I feel trapped here. I feel like all the best parts of me, or at least what I consider to be my best parts, are twisted here. I like to believe that I’m a kind person and that I’m nice, but here it feels like I’m forcing kindness as a way to fit in. But what am I trying to fit in to?

I don’t think I believe in hell anymore, Alice. I don’t know what this means for my faith, as I realized that a lot of it relied on some belief that those who are good get a reward and those who are not get punished. Because if there is no hell, what happens to the people who aren’t good? Do they just cease to exist? Are they somehow redeemed? I don’t doubt that God can redeem all people; I think it’s just my own fears being projected into this idea.

Because if God simply erases those who aren’t good, then what will become of me? How do I know if I’m doing the right thing? I don’t want to worship out of fear. I don’t want to be the person who comes before God afraid of doing the wrong thing. Maybe I’m just overthinking the whole thing. Maybe I’m just looking for excuses to distance myself from this church (as if I needed any more excuses).

I don’t know what to do here. I feel kinda lost, kinda sad, and very much confused. Thank you for listening to all my rambling. You’re a good friend.

I’ll talk to you soon,

Love,
Alex